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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.

George Nicholas, 1955

Paul Fitzgerald

oil on canvas (frame: 76.5 cm x 67.5 cm, support: 62.0 cm x 51.0 cm)

George Nicholas CBE (1884-1960), pharmacist and philanthropist, grew up in South Australia and Victoria. After qualifying in 1912 he opened a pharmacy in Windsor. When World War I cut off German supplies of acetylsalicylic acid (aspirin), he set out with no instructions and primitive equipment to make some. With freelance entrepreneur Henry Woolf Shmith, he succeeded in producing a batch of pure aspirin; in late 1915, after bureaucratic delays, the pair were licenced to make and sell the drug in Australia. In 1917 they registered the name Aspro. Swapping Shmith for his brother Alfred as his business partner, through the 1920s George expanded his local business and made incursions into overseas markets. Aspro Ltd, an English company established by Alfred, became a public company in 1935. As their wealth increased, the brothers endowed hospitals, colleges and diverse charities; in the 1930s George bought a large stand of mountain ash in Victoria to provide work for unemployed youths. By 1937, they were estimated to have given away more than half a million pounds. Meanwhile, George built up a magnificent garden at Mount Macedon and became a mainstay of the Victoria Racing Club. He was the company's managing director from 1937 until his retirement in 1947, during which period it broadened its products to pharmaceuticals, vitamins and veterinary products; he lived to see the opening of a new large plant at Chadstone in 1957.

Collection: National Portrait Gallery
Gift of Hilton Nicholas AM OBE 2010
© Estate of Paul Fitzgerald

Accession number: 2010.19

Currently not on display

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Artist and subject

Paul Fitzgerald (age 33 in 1955)

George Nicholas CBE (age 71 in 1955)

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The National Portrait Gallery acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of Country throughout Australia and recognises the continuing connection to lands, waters and communities. We pay our respect to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cultures and to Elders both past and present.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander viewers are warned that this website contains images of deceased persons.